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Human Parts
A publication about humanity from Medium: yours, mine, and ours.

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Express Yourself

Language’s sordid history with words that contradict themselves

I’m not going to try to convince you that black is white, but…

Have you ever wondered why the words “black” and “blank” are so similar, despite having virtually opposite meanings? It’s not a coincidence. They actually derive from the same word: the Old Norse blakkr, which in turn comes from the Proto-Indo-European root bhleg-, meaning “to burn” or “to singe.”

It’s been suggested that the two contrasting descendants are simply different interpretations of the same concept: burning something turns it a bright color and then black. The same ancestor has given us other decidedly non-black words in English, like…


This Is Us

This common phrase is hurtful to all women — even the mothers who are saying it

Black and white photo of a mother kissing her infant.
Black and white photo of a mother kissing her infant.

In mid-January, I was scrolling through Instagram and stopped to watch a clip Ashley Graham had posted from a video she made to celebrate her son’s first year of life. It was emotional and beautiful and sweet, but the video included a sentiment that seems to appear in so many new mothers’ lexicons: “People tell you, people will try to explain it to you, but you don’t know love until you have a child of your own…”

I felt the same thing I always feel when I hear people say things like that — a genuine pain in my chest…


This Is Us

We lose our childhoods in a million different ways

When I was 11, the most stressful place on Earth was the Flynn O’Hara store near Westchester Square. It was the only retail store that sold the uniforms I needed for my brief stint in Catholic school.

Flynn O’Hara was the place where my mom usually realized I had gone up a size or two from the year before. The unforgiving cotton-polyester pants had no stretch and left marks on the lower part of my stomach in ways my jeans and skirts did not. My skirts were longer than those of the other girls, but too big around my waist…


Past Is Prologue

A photographer’s perspective on recent events at the Capitol

If the last four years were a Hollywood screenplay, January 6th would have been a scene in the series finale. The moment where characters of seasons past reunite in a climactic moment four years in the making.

Around me, in a sea of strangers, were familiar faces from earlier episodes of this administration: Proud Boys and street preachers, white supremacists and QAnon conspiracists, pro-lifers and anti-vaxxers. Seeing them conjured memories of years’ worth of news stories — Charleston, Pizzagate, viral videos of suburban moms being thrown out of grocery stores for defying mask policies.


This Is Us

Some see a cultureless wasteland, but to me, it’s home

The summer before my senior year of college, I worked as an assistant video editor for my college’s communications department. My supervisor was a man with thinning red hair and a thick, red mustache. Despite being a devout vegetarian, he always had a pungent, meaty smell to him — like old ham water. His native New York accent was thick enough I don’t believe I ever heard him pronounce the letter R.

Despite my debilitating social anxiety and self-doubt, back then I had convinced myself that I’d be moving to New York or L.A. after college to pursue a career…


This Is Us

My radical vision for the future does not include the violence that occurs within a hospital’s walls — or the hospital at all

Medical equipment on the background of group of health workers in the ICU.
Medical equipment on the background of group of health workers in the ICU.

On a night in my early teens, I went to the Pediatric Emergency Department at Montefiore’s Children’s Hospital for intense cramps. I was expecting my period in a few days but had never felt that way before — like a heat lamp was burning into the meat of my pelvis.

My mother and I spent the better part of nine hours in a tiny room with speckled vinyl floors and too-bright fluorescent lights. At one point, I was sent to another room nearby that was a little larger and had no extra chairs. My mother was told to stand outside…


This Is Us

Fear won, and I can no longer afford to hold onto my anti-gun ideals

Handgun on wooden table with 7 bullets.
Handgun on wooden table with 7 bullets.

“There is no such thing as paranoia. Your worst fears can come true at any moment.” — Hunter S. Thompson

There’s nothing fancy about it, but it’ll kill if I ask it to, which I suppose is the defining characteristic of a gun. In that sense, it’s perfect. If the shots are well placed, it can kill 18 times before it asks for any assistance in continuing. Ruthlessly efficient and rightfully terrifying, it represents protection in the most dangerous way possible. …


Express Yourself

A brief investigation into gendered language

In 2007, while browsing the humor section of your local bookshop in search of a low-effort Christmas gift, you might have come across a book called Real Men Don’t Say Splendid: A Lexicon of Unmanliness. If you were curious whether the book’s title was supposed to be ironic, you might have plucked it off the shelf and scanned its first page, which reads:

We all know instinctively that there are some words real men just shouldn’t say, no matter what the circumstances — words that make a man seem a little less manly when he says them. […] Men, for…


There were Post-It notes all over her apartment, according to the New York Times: Goals. To-do lists. Reminders. At 26, Breonna Taylor was in that phase of your life where reinventing yourself is the norm. Where everything about your story is up for revision — a rough draft you’re still workshopping, running it by friends and hoping it makes sense.

We tend to remember people based on who they were when we knew them. As if by the time their lives ended, they’d somehow reached their Final Form, ready to be immortalized as that person forever. …

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